Obamas pick Jackson Park for presidential library site
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have settled on Jackson Park as the site for a presidential library and museum. A source familiar with the situation confirmed the decision for Crain's.
The Obamas have not yet made an official announcement, though one is expected next week. The news ends months of speculation about the project's location, which had been narrowed down to Jackson Park and Washington Park. Jackson Park, a 543-acre green space in the Woodlawn neighborhood, is next to the University of Chicago and near Lake Michigan and Lake Shore Drive. It was the site of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. In June, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects was tapped to design the presidential library and museum. The New York-based firm designed the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at U of C.
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The location makes sense to Robert O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy. “It will have the synergy of the other big institutions there,” namely the University of Chicago, O'Neill said. Jackson Park is also bigger, by 200 acres, than Washington Park. Washington Park, west of Woodlawn Avenue, is closer to the Dan Ryan Expressway. It's already home to one museum, the DuSable Museum of African American History. It is also closer to the Obama's house in Kenwood. The decision could create disappointment, as Crain's reported in March that real estate developers had begun to snap up property in the Washington Park area, anticipating the museum's location there.
Tokela Brown, a broker with Baird & Warner Real Estate, doesn't expect the interest to wane. “There's still an opportunity to grow in that neighborhood,” she says. Brown recently closed a sale of a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath house there for $390,000, just $10,000 under the asking price.
The selection was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
“The president has pledged he will be present,” Obama Foundation Chairman Martin Nesbitt said last year when Chicago was named the host city. “So I am sure he will be here working. He will be all over the world after his presidency, I'm sure. But he will spend a lot of time working at the foundation.”